President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: 'The Joy of the Priesthood’
His contrasting experiences piloting a restored 1938 Piper Cub aircraft many years ago and an sophisticated F-18 fighter jet earlier this year were the analogy President Dieter F. Uchtdorf used in his priesthood session address to illustrate his topic “the Joy of the Priesthood.”
“Brethren, isn’t it true that our individual experiences of service in the priesthood may all be quite different?” asked President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency. “Figuratively speaking, some of you are flying in F-18 jets, while others are flying in Piper Cubs. Some of you live in wards and stakes where every position, from assistant to the high priests group leader to the deacons quorum secretary, is filled with an active priesthood holder. Yours is the privilege to participate in a ward organization that is well-staffed.”
Others, he said, live in areas with only a handful of Church members and priesthood leaders. “You may feel alone and burdened with the weight of all that needs to be done. For you it might take a lot of personal hands-on involvement to get the engine of priesthood service started. Sometimes it may even seem that your branch or ward is not moving forward at all.”
Regardless, there is always a special joy that comes from dedicated priesthood service, President Uchtdorf observed.
It is easy to find things to complain about, he said. “But brethren, we are bearers of the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God! ... Whether in a large ward or a small branch we are called upon to serve, bless and act in all things for the good of all and everything entrusted to our care. Could there be anything more exhilarating?”
He added, “As a pilot, I have touched the skies. As a Church member, I have felt heaven’s embrace.”
Every now and then, he said, he misses sitting in a cockpit, but serving alongside his brothers and sisters in the Church easily makes up for it.
He emphasized that the priesthood is the eternal power and glory of God.
“Think of it. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth.
“Through this power, He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass ‘the immortality and eternal life of man.’”
Priesthood power cannot be purchased or commanded, President Uchtdorf remarked. “The use of its power cannot be influenced, swayed or compelled by position, wealth or influence. It is a spiritual power that operates on heavenly law. It originates in the great Heavenly Father of us all. Its power can be controlled and directed only through principles of righteousness, not self-righteousness.”
Noting that Christ is the source of all true priesthood authority and power on earth, President Uchtdorf said, “We do not act for personal gain, but rather we seek to serve and lift up others. We lead not by force but through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”
The priesthood of God is available to all worthy men regardless of ancestry or circumstances, he said. “And because of the eternal and unfathomable Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the priesthood of God can be available even if you have stumbled or been unworthy in the past.”
President Uchtdorf said he feels sad for those who do not grasp and appreciate the wonder and privilege of the priesthood. “They are like passengers on an airplane who spend their time grumbling about the size of the packet of peanuts while they are soaring through the air, far above the clouds — something ancient kings would have given all they possessed to try just once!
“Brethren, we are blessed to be humble partakers of this great priesthood authority and power. Let us lift up our eyes and see, recognize and accept this opportunity for what it really is.”
He admonished: “Let us embrace and understand the wonder and privilege of the priesthood. Let us accept and love the responsibilities we are asked to fulfill — in our homes and in our Church units, no matter how large or small. Let us constantly increase in righteousness, dedication and priesthood service. Let us find the joy of serving in the priesthood!
President Uchtdorf said that can best be done by applying the principles of knowledge, obedience and faith.
“Let us be wise,” he said, “and act upon this gained knowledge constantly and honorably. As we obey God’s laws, discipline our minds and bodies and attune our actions to the patterns of righteousness taught by the prophets, we will experience the joy of priesthood service.
“And finally, let us deepen our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us take upon ourselves His name and commit each day to walk anew in the path of discipleship. Let our works make our faith perfect. Through discipleship we may be perfected one step at a time by serving family, fellowmen and God.”